Dec 23

I recently purchased a new Mac mini to replace my home computer – a 2009 iMac. It was well overdue as Apple listed it as obsolete 4 years ago.

Unfortunately, it only comes with 256GB SSD storage as standard and Apple charges £200 extra for 512GB and £400 extra for 1TB. Very pricey! So in an attempt to save some money, I thought I would use an external drive for additional space.

It wasn’t long before I settled on the idea of getting an NVMe SSD with an enclosure. This was recommended by The Verge and seemed to offer the best price point and flexibility.

For the SSD itself, I went through several sites such as Tom’s Hardware looking for a recommendation and eventually settled on the ADATA XPG SX8200 Pro. This offered a good price/performance ratio (at least in the UK).

Now came the more tricky part – which enclose to use. Originally, I was expecting to get a Thunderbolt enclosure, but it turns out they are prohibitively expensive – especially for my use-case. It didn’t make sense to spend more on the caddy than the SSD!

After trawling Amazon for a while I picked up a FIDECO M.2 NVME External SSD Enclosure. It looked very promising – 4.3 out of 5 starts with 782 ratings.

However, as soon as it arrived – the fun started. While I did manage to connect and initialise the disk, immediately after starting a file transfer it detached itself from the OS. I tried disconnecting and reconnecting it, but it showed up uninitialised as a 97.86TB disk.

I thought I’d try formatting it again, but I ended up with the following error:

Unable to write to the last block of the device. : (-69760)

This makes sense, given how big it thought the disk is (over 90TB), and how big it actually is (1TB).

At this point, I started researching enclosures and looking around to if others had similar problems. It turns out NVMe enclosures are notoriously flakey and there are many forums threads discussing the topic.

What I found is, for all the off-brand enclosures, there are three actual chips that power them:

  1. JMS583
  2. RTL9210(B)
  3. ASM2362

Without knowing ahead of time, it seems the enclosure I first bought contained a RTL9210B. This does not have a lot of complaints, but it certainly didn’t work for me. I even tried upgrading the firmware to no avail.

So with that in mind, I scoured Amazon for a new enclosure with a different chipset. Specifically an ASM2362 as the JMicron chip has lots of negative comments.

A few days later (no, I don’t have Prime) my Kafuty USB3.1 to M.2 NVME External Hard Drive Enclosure arrived and I swapped over the SSD.

It immediately showed up in Finder but I thought I’d reinitialise it anyway. Some file transfers and speed-tests later, all was still good ?

TLDR; On my M1 Mac mini, RTL9210B was a complete failure and ASM2362 is stable.

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